PARIS (Reuters) – Olympique Lyon’s desire to balance the books appears set to hinder their Ligue 1 challenge, with key players leaving the side as the title race enters its final phase.
Second in the standings behind big-spending Paris St Germain on goal difference, Lyon are in a position where they should be looking to strengthen the squad before the January transfer window closes on Thursday night.
However, instead of signing up reinforcements, Lyon have loaned influential Brazil winger Michel Bastos to Schalke 04 in Germany, and put talismanic striker Lisandro Lopez and France international forward Bafetimbi Gomis on the transfer list.
"We lost a great player, someone who was important in the dressing room, but our main advantage is our collective strength," centre back Milan Bisevac told the club’s website (www.olweb.fr) of Bastos’ departure.
Lyon, on 45 points from 22 games, travel to strugglers AC Ajaccio on Sunday with the Corsica club one of only a few to have added to their squad during the transfer window.
Ajaccio signed Kenyan striker Dennis Oliech from second division side AJ Auxerre as well as defender Mathieu Chalme, on loan from Girondins Bordeaux.
"It is not going to be easy as they have recruited Oliech, who is a fast striker," Bisevac added.
Leaders PSG face a tricky trip to Toulouse in Friday’s curtain riser having just loaned home-grown midfielder Adrien Rabiot to the south-western club.
Toulouse were third in the standings after 10 rounds of fixtures but a nosedive in form has seen them drop to 10th place on 31 points, having picked up just 12 points from as many matches.
Olympique Marseille, third in the table three points off the pace, will have been delighted to see new signing Modou Sougou make an immediate impact when he scored in his debut in a French Cup tie against Rouen on Wednesday.
With Loic Remy sold to Queens Park Rangers, Sougou, who according to coach Elie Baup is a "skilful" player, may lead the line again on Sunday when Marseille take on bottom club Nancy.
Champions Montpellier, looking to salvage a disappointing first half of the season, take on Stade Reims on Sunday.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by John O’Brien)
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